23 Feb 2015

The Vapour Trail Guide To The NME Awards Tour

The NME awards tour is something that happens every year, and after last year's effort, something which, despite it's fairly big name line-up was advertised much more minimally and downplayed a bit, it's back in a much more conspicuous way this year. As well as just being an NME tour, it's Palma Violets' first full UK tour since December 2013, so you already know that it's going to be kinda hectic no matter what. As well as that though, they're complimented perfectly by Londoners Slaves and The Fat White Family, and now the Brighton-based band The Wytches (who we love the most) have been added to the bill, so it really is incredibly special. So I did some typing and put together a bit of a guide and a preview for anyone that's maybe yet to hear any of the bands on the tour, or is still ummming and  ahhhhing at whether they should go.



First things first; where is the tour stopping off at? Yesterday it was in Glasgow, and before that Sheffield and Newcastle, whilst tomorrow night it's in Leeds, and then the 4 bands are stopping off in  Notts, Manchester, Oxford, Brum, Brizzle and Portsmouth, before the final date at the Forum in London - full dates can be found on the poster type thing I've enclosed, but all the dates are some time between now and 4th March.

Because I really do love each and every band on the tour, here's a profile of each of them, with their past releases rated outta ten so you know which ones to go for first;

PALMA VIOLETS

Who are they?
London four-piece headlining the NME tour, everyone knows who Palma Violets are. They're a four-piece operating outta Lambeth, and they've just finished work on their second album, which will be the follow-up to 180, their highly acclaimed debut. Their sound is very chaotic but well within the confines of indie rock, whilst their co-frontmen have fantastic voices - sort of cockney crooners, the East End's answer to Nick Cave - their keys section gives their music some melody amidst the madness.
What have they released so far? (Ratings in brackets)
After releasing their debut single Best Of Friends/Last Of The Summer Wine (10.0) Palma achieved a lot of media attention, and they became one of the most hyped bands in the country, because god it was an absolute banger of a track. From there, they kept the critics bated with Step Up For Cool Cats, (8.2) another strong track that continued the hype before they finally released their debut album 180. (7.3) 180 was probably a bit of a letdown for a band of such potential, but because they're such a talented, chaotic band, their second album may just live up to the brilliance that their live shows promise.
Is there anymore about them on Vapour Trail?
Earlier this week we covered the news of their new album and new song, Danger in the Club. But as well as that, they topped Poppy's album of the decade countdown (which was factually wronger than mine) and their Reading performance is up there on her top ten live performances of 2014 countdown.

FAT WHITE FAMILY

Who are they? 
East Londoners that may potentially bring more mayhem than Palma Violets, their live sets' hectic nature have really made a name for the Fat Whites. They make consciously ugly, dissonant punk music, and their sound sounds like it's heavily influenced by The Fall and The Birthday Party, but in a way that doesn't try and completely rip them off. Always outspoken on the ol' social media, the 7-piece are actually responsible for tweeting what is potentially my favourite tweet of 2014, so I guess that sort of shows that despite the various incidents of onstage body fluids flying, their hearts are in the right place.
What have they released so far? (Ratings in brackets)
Like Palma Violets, they've put out a debut LP, but that kind of slipped under the radar a little more. It's by no means an easy listen, but I personally love the chaos of Champagne Holocaust (7.3) and think that it shows the band off at their best. As well as that, they've also put out a couple of singles; the first being Touch The Leather (8.1) which is a very visceral effort from the Fat Whites, and then the follow up non-album single I Am Mark E Smith, (9.2) which saw them at their best paying tribute to one of the greatest bands of all time in venomous style - "The Fall have I Am Damo Suzuki so we've got I Am Mark E Smith" said Lias, the frontman in an interview recently, and that's cool as fuck, really, and maybe something I'd describe as a proper I don't know why I didn't think of that idea.
Is there anymore about them on Vapour Trail?
In short, not yet. Although I Am Mark E Smith wasn't far from being included in our songs of the year countdown. As well as that, they're recording an album around now-ish with all the Beatles' old equipment, which is quite an odd combination, don't you think?


SLAVES

Who are they?
Some more Londoners joining the Fat Whites and the Palmas, Slaves are a two-piece that make music that falls halfway between the clunky rock sounds of Royal Blood, and the energetic punk-rock snarl of the great punk bands; those specifically being The Pistols, Wire and Sham 69 in the case of Slaves. Although they're probably the band on the tour that I personally think the least of, they're hotly tipped for greatness in the coming months. Their sound isn't the most original, but it's delivered with such venom and angst that you really don't care all that much. They're great fun, and despite their smart, suited, booted appearance, they pack a real dirty great punch.
What have they released so far? (Ratings in brackets)
So far their releases amount to three singles that have come out over the past 15 months or so. They've all been along a similar, vicious vane, but they've got continually better and better. Where's You Car Debbie? (7.0) is a real Strummer/Jones call and response number, and Hey (7.4) adds to the punk rock chaos in a bit more of a mature, refined, but still venomous number. It's with The Hunter, (8.6) the two-piece really sound like a band that can be the next big thing; it's equal parts visceral oi punk and intimidating stand-offish rock 'n' roll.
Is there anymore about them on Vapour Trail?
Not really - they've got a track on this playlist and Sym from Piano Wire/Eighties Matchbox namedrops them in this interview type piece - but with an album on the way we'll have both eyes on them, and the fact that they were nominated for the BBC's sound of 2015 poll means it's their duty to save British guitar music, so they should be in for a lot more Vapour Trail coverage.

THE WYTCHES

Who are they?
The Wytches ! the wytches ! THE WYTCHES ! SEHCTYW EHT ! This band need no introduction whatsoever, because here on this blog we've been championing them as one of our favourite bands for our entire short existence. They describe their sound as 'surf-doom', which kind of sums it up perfectly; they're very grungey, but with a great amount of Beach Boys pop type sensibility - beneath the hard riffing sounds of frontman Kristian Bell's Bleachy guitar are perfect, albeit morbid and vicious, pop songs, making them one of the best bands to emerge over the past few years. To be honest, it's surprising that The Wytches, who were brought in as replacements for Scots The Amazing Snakeheads - cap off the bill by opening, especially when they've got one successful album under their belts, and no one's even sure if Slaves' album will really be any good, you know?
What have they released so far? (Ratings in brackets)
The first single, and one which has the cover art which makes it as everyone's twitter header photo was the brilliant double A-sided Crying Clown/Beehive Queen (9.1) which quite frankly set the tone for their next releases. After that, they released the Robe For Juda (8.2), Digsaw (8.8), Gravedweller (8.9) and Wire Frame Mattress/Holy Tightrope (9.5) singles, which helped them land a deal with Heavenly recs, before bringing out their debut album Annabel Dream Reader (8.6), which was one of last year's standout albums (despite not quite capturing the live fury of the band). Since then, the only single they've brought out has been Burn Out The Bruise (9.9) which had the honour of being our first ever 20/20 single, before we decided that x/20 ratings were annoying and we should try something else.
Is there any more about them on Vapour Trail?
Crikey, yes; here goes; there's live reviews of them both in Southampton and Norwich, as well as reviews of Annabel Dream Reader and Burn Out The Bruise/Darker, but perhaps most remarkable is their End Of Year List performance on the blog - their track Darker topped our songs of the year (whilst Wire Frame Mattress came 19th), Annabel Dream Reader was third on our albums of the year list, and on our individual live sets of the year they made it onto the lists of both me (2nd) and Poppy. (9th)

So with four of the better bands around at the moment; some with scores to settle, some with new material to exhibit, and all of them with new fans to win over, 2015's NME awards tour looks to potentially be one of the must-see shows of the year. The Wytches, Palma Violets, The Fat Whites and Slaves under one roof; it's too good to miss.

(reviews et al to follow)

(written by calum cashin)